With time running out and the USC Trojans driving, Notre Dame needed a stop. The Fighting Irish got just that with just over 30 seconds left in the game. Quarterback Mitch Mustain threw towards the goal line with a chance to win the game, only to see the Fighting Irish come down with the ball at the one yard line. With a four point lead and possession, Notre Dame was able to run out the clock and bring home the win, 20-16.
The Fighting Irish took a 13-3 lead into the half, but saw it evaporate in the third quarter. A field goal and Mustain touchdown run leveled the score at 13 before USC took the lead in the fourth on a field goal. With two minutes to go, Notre Dame battle back, taking the lead for good on a five yard Robert Hughes run. The interception in the waining moments sealed the Notre Dame’s first win over the Trojans since 2001.
Freshman quarterback Tommy Rees had a shaky second half, finishing the game with 149 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, two of which came in the second half. Cierry Woods and Hughes combined for 158 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the Irish. Michael Floyd led all receivers with 11 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Mustain didn’t have a much better day. The backup quarterback, replacing the injured Matt Barkley, threw for just 177 yards and an interception. The ground game wasn’t much better, with Marc Tyler only picking up 48 yards on 17 carries. Robert Woods led the Trojan receivers with eight catches for 81 yards.
Notre Dame finished the regular season at 7-5 with the win. USC fell to 7-5 with a game against UCLA looming next Saturday. The Trojans are not bowl eligible due to sanctions.